Lee and Blumenherst shine at U.S. Open

Stepping to the tee box in the first round of the 2007 U.S. Women's Open, Amanda Blumenherst, last year's low amateur, had a very junior moment.

The rising Duke junior was paired with 1987 U.S. Open Champion Laura Davies.

"When they announce the pairings at the first tee, the announcer also says when the golfers won the Open," Blumenherst said. "I must have been six months old when she won it."

Blumenherst and fellow teammate Jennie Lee did their best to add to a very successful spring-which included winning Duke's third consecutive NCAA Championship-by making waves at the Open, which was held June 28 to July 1 at Needles Lodge and Golf Course in Southern Pines, NC.

Carding a 10-over par 294, Lee finished 39th, sharing low amateur scorer honors with South Korea's Jennifer Song. Blumenherst placed in 50th with a 12-over par 296, placing her third amongst amateurs.

Lee's honors marked the third consecutive year and the fifth time since 1998 that a Duke golfer has posted the top amateur score at the U.S. Women's Open. In addition to Blumenherst in 2006, alumni Jenny Chuasiriporn (1998), Candy Hannemann (2001) and Brittany Lang (2005) each turned in the lowest amateur scorecards.

"Its something that we're really proud of," Duke head coach Dan Brooks said of his golfers' winning tradition. "It tells you how seriously these kids take their summer golf. We play hard all season long, and they're usually playing right after nationals. It shows how truly into the game of golf they are."

The course conditions posed a challenge for much of the field. Cristie Kerr's five-under par was the winning score, while only five golfers finished the tournament with rounds under par.

"It was playing really long, and the greens were extremely fast," Blumenherst said. "It was a challenge to get it on the green, keep it on the green and really judge the speed."

Although neither Duke golfer was in serious contention of winning the tournament, both players said the experience they gained playing alongside professionals in a pressured, high-profile environment was invaluable.

"At times you just learn by watching them hit different shots around the greens, and by how they approach the course," Lee said. "They're not always going to be very talkative with you, but you definitely learn a lot just by watching them when you are playing in the same groups."

With another set of excellent performances, Brooks' golfers continue to impress him.

"Strengths and weakness are going to be exposed [at the Open], and that's why I was really proud," Brooks said. "It's not just flukish. It's not just college golf. They're playing at the highest level."


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